The first weekend of October Two Dog Outdoors followed our local writing group, the South
Carolina Outdoor Press, down to the Santee Cooper lakes for fishing and some fun. We were fortunate to stay at a place called Blacks Camp. Blacks Camp provided us with excellent food, cooked in house, and comfortable living quarters. They have something for everyone, including cabins for families or hotel rooms for a quick weekend getaway. Blacks Camp, run by Kevin Davis, also secured us our fishing guides ( http://www.blackscamp.com/ ). My guide, Captain Leroy Suggs, took three of us striper fishing and taught me some new vocabulary.
It started off warm for an October day in South Carolina. As soon as we found a spot with potential fish, Captain Leroy idled the motor and taught me my first new vocabulary word, jigging. Apparently stripers love catching bait fish as they come off the bottom of the lake. I was instructed to let my line unwind off the reel (freespool) until it hit the bottom, which was anywhere from 15-30 feet. Next, jig the rig which means a quick upward motion, like setting the hook. To take up the slack in the line this creates, a wise fisherman then reels quickly to mimic the bait fish swimming away from its predators. Apparently bait fish are faster than my reflexes, because Leroy kept telling me that I couldn’t reel too fast. I tried to heed his advice and the faster I reeled the more fish I hooked.
We caught ten small stripers in approximately two hours, all around 18-22 inches which had to be thrown back. Stripers less than 22 inches are still too young to reproduce so to keep fish numbers in check, the legal size of stripers from Lake Moultrie is between 23-25 inches. Fisherman are allowed to keep two in this size range per day, and one over 25 inches.
For our boat, the fishing heated up after lunchtime. We scouted a bit, looking for gulls diving down to challenge the stripers for food. We saw several groups of birds resting on the water, but none were feeding. Captain Leroy got out his binoculars and started scouting for fish " bustin' ". I soon learned that this is striper lingo for fish feeding on top or “bustin'” through the water, chasing their next meal. Since we didn’t see any bustin' fish, Captain Leroy decided the resting gulls may be the next best thing, and boy was he right.
We spent the next two hours reeling in stripers, getting picky about weight because we were quickly approaching our boat limit for the day. Leroy got his step count in for the day, pacing back and forth between clients reeling in whopper stripers and assisting us with our catches.
We ended the day with one fish short of a limit and with tired arms we retired to Blacks Camp once more. We utilized the fish cleaning services at Blacks Camp and within minutes of being at the dock had fresh fish in the cooler and were off to another great dinner.
Blacks Camp is family friendly and a great place to fish, for beginner and expert fisherman alike. There are several target species of fish in Lake Moultrie which means there is always something biting. If new to the lake, I highly suggest hiring Captain Leroy Suggs to guide your fishing trip (http://www.santeecooperstriperfishing.com/ ) . He welcomes the newcomer with patience and if all else fails, just remember to keep up with the lingo and reel faster.